The word “strategy” has its roots in ancient Greek. It comes from the Greek word strategia which is a combination of two Greek words: stratos meaning army and agein meaning to lead. Thus, the word strategia originally referred to the tactics and strategies used by military leaders to achieve their goals in battle.
More importantly, it also is linked with the fact that there is a leader (i.e. the general) who provides direction and vision to others (i.e. the army). So strategy is not just personal; it’s about how to work and communicate with others towards a shared goal which would be unattainable unless everyone works together.
After all, the world is too complex for one individual to do it all — we need teams to come together to solve the world’s toughest problems.
The Kennedy administration’s moon landings are often held up as a shining example of effective strategy and goal setting. On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared the ambition to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely to Earth by the end of the decade. This goal was met with solid support from the American public and scientific community and quickly became a national priority.
To achieve this goal, NASA developed a comprehensive strategy that included the development of new technologies, recruiting top scientists and engineers, and constructing specialized facilities and equipment. NASA also established partnerships with private companies to build and launch the spacecraft and with foreign countries to share resources and knowledge.
The strategy also included a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal, starting with a series of manned missions to low Earth orbit, followed by increasingly complex missions to the moon’s surface. The focus was always on achieving the goal safely and efficiently, and the strategy was continuously updated and refined as new information and technology became available.
In July of 1969, NASA successfully landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the moon and returned them safely to Earth, achieving Kennedy’s goal. The moon landings serve as a powerful example of what can be achieved when a clear goal is set, and a comprehensive strategy is developed and executed effectively.
Clear goals and vision are essential components of effective strategy. A clear goal provides direction and focus for the entire organization, aligns the efforts of all stakeholders, and helps to prioritize resources and decision-making. A clear vision provides a long-term perspective and a sense of purpose that inspires and motivates individuals and teams to work together towards a common objective.
On the other hand, vague goals lack the specificity and focus that are necessary for effective strategy. Vague goals often result in miscommunication, lack of accountability, and limited progress towards the desired outcome.
Examples of vague goals that modern politicians have set include “improve the economy” or “create jobs”. While these goals may be well-intentioned, they lack the specificity and measurable targets necessary to assess progress and guide decision-making. As a result, they may not provide the clarity and direction that organizations need to effectively allocate resources and achieve their goals.
It is important for leaders to set clear, measurable, and achievable goals and vision in order to drive effective strategy. This requires a deep understanding of the organization’s capabilities and resources, as well as a clear understanding of the external environment and the challenges that must be overcome to achieve success. With clear goals and vision, organizations are better equipped to develop and execute effective strategies that drive long-term success.
Goals must also be intrinsically motivating; they require an element of excitement, and the possibility of failure.